The implementation of the Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) is the most potent way to curb corruption in the public service, the Director, FoI Unit, Federal Ministry of Justice, Mrs. Stella Anukam, has said. This was contained in a news day publication of Nigeria of October 28
Anukam, who spoke in Abuja on Tuesday at an enlightenment program on the implementation of the FoI for officers on grade levels 15-17 in the Federal Ministry of Finance, said FoI enables the citizens to call public servants to account and ask about their activities in the conduct of government business.
She argued that freedom of information has succeeded in other climes, and is succeeding in some African countries, adding that it can equally be a success in Nigeria.
Anukam noted that the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation processed reports from 16 public institutions for the year 2011 by April 2012, 32 reports for 2012 processed by April 2013, while 52 for 2013 were processed by April 2014.
According to her, 60 reports for 2014 were processed by April this year, affirming that the level of compliance in each public institution must be better each year, both in number and content.
“It is our hope that if a public institution is on low compliance this year, it should move to medium compliance next year and by the third year get to high compliance bracket. Public institutions that have parastatals under them must mobilize and galvanize such parastatals to comply with the provisions of FoI as well. We are not a nation of incorrigibly corrupt, secretive or crooked people as is being portrayed by some, we can do things right all the time; we did so during the last elections.
“We can and will attain greatness again. It is very possible. Let us collectively make FoI Act work in Nigeria,” Anukam said even as she listed the challenges, opportunities and prospects of the Act.
According to her, lack of a good grasp of the FoI Act on the part of public institutions, lack necessary institutional capacity to implement the Act in some public institutions, inability to meet tim lines as well as bureaucratic bottlenecks necessary in the public services are some of the challenges facing the Act.
In her keynote address at the event, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Mrs. Anastasia Nwaobia disclosed that her ministry had recorded a remarkable level of compliance of the FoIA as a result of adherence to periodic training/sensitisation of different cadres of the workforce.
“Today, we can say that there is an improvement and better cordial relationship between the ministry and its numerous publics. However, there is still room for improvement, especially in the area of information management and dissemination,” Nwaobia stated.